2014-01-31   facebook twitter rss

US Expert Tells Dairy Farmers: “Spend More To Earn More”

Boosting profitability of dairy herds is all about spending more per cow, according to a US expert who shared his views with farmers at an event in Shrewsbury.

Dr Steve Eicker made the trip from his New York base to present his case to an invited audience at Shrewsbury Town's New Meadow stadium, organised by Wynnstay Group.

Dr Steve Eicker

Dr Steve Eicker

Joint owner of a firm which provides the ‘Dairy Comp 305’ software that manages around 30 percent of the dairy cows in the United States, Dr Eicker told his audience that they shouldn't be relying on using average figures for working out feed rations and making financial decisions based on those figures. Instead they should be looking for opportunities to spend more money, in the expectation of an even better return for their effort.

He told the meeting: “If you use averages you are wasting your time,” adding that the most profit came from the margins of herd management, “the last bit eaten, the last cow added, the last effort made.”

Dr Eicker also stressed that farmers should be looking at where they can make more money from an existing animal, not just assuming greater profit came from expansion of the herd. He told the meeting that the best dairies in the US were making $2,000 profit per cow – not by cutting down on parts of rations, but by boosting inputs in the right places.

“If cows eat more, they produce more milk. However, cows that don't produce milk still cost you more because of body maintenance. Fixed costs are fixed; they are unchanged and therefore do not change when you produce more milk.”

Senior dairy specialist for Wynnstay Group, Dr Huw McConochie, who attended the meeting, said:
“I certainly think Steve Eicker's talk opened some eyes and got a few brains ticking! It can feel counter intuitive to spend more when you are feeling cost pressures, but it's equally clear that if you cut energy inputs, you are risking your profitability. It really is a case of investing in expectation of a return and if you do that with good information and knowledgeable advisors, you are dramatically improving your chances of success.”

Steve Eicker co-founded California-based Valley Agricultural Software in 1981 and is the company's director of research and development, consulting and lecturing globally on data analysis and dairy economics, as well as being involved in numerous research projects. His visit was part of a string of events organised by Wynnstay Group to provide advice and support to farmers on a range of issues around dairy herd management, including feeding, housing, ventilation, lighting and more.


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